Archive: Farmer technical comment - Alistair Cliff

Published 10 October 14

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Alistair Cliff (Cheshire 1 on the graphs) milks two units, a spring calving herd with 180 cows and an autumn calving herd with 240 cows, on 580 acres near Chester. Cows on both units are Holstein Friesian crosses. The farm also has about 25 acres of wholecrop, sown as a cover crop for reseeding.

On 21 October,Alistair and his wife will host a DairyCo Research Day. It’s a chance to hear about the latest DairyCo research in areas such as outwintering heifers, lucerne and effective lameness treatments.

Grass supply

Average Farm Cover      Spring-calving herd 2,508kg

                                    Autumn-calving herd 2,300kg

Pre-grazing cover          Spring-calving herd 2,500kg

                                    Autumn-calving herd 2,300kg

7-day grass growth        44kg DM/ha/day – this was taken on 5 October, before conditions became colder

Concentrate feed level   Spring-calving herd 2kg/day

                                    Autumn-calving herd 6 or 7kg/day, depending on yield

Cow performance

Milk yield                      Spring-calving herd 16 litres/cow, 4.46% fat and 3.88% protein

                                    Autumn-calving herd 26.5 litres/cow, 4.16% fat and 3.29% protein


“We’re budgeting for the spring-calvers up to 18 November and we should get pretty close,” says Alistair. “It’s a dry farm and, with our good tracks, access is not an issue. It’s just grass availability but, with the good growth we’ve had this season, I’m hopeful we’ll have the grass there.

“The autumn-calving herd will be housed from 1 November before we start serving,” he explains.

“The Research Day, taking place here on the 21st, is a great chance to see what research is being funded with our levy and how that translates into a practical farm setting. I’m particularly interested in the outwintering heifers section, and the lameness section, as we have had some problems with dermatitis in our autumn-calving herd.”